Bedoin is one of my favourite villages in Provence and as well as numerous trips up Ventoux I have enjoyed a lot of cycling in the local area but one ride I hadn’t completed was a circumnavigation of the great mountain so with local information and maps a course was set to follow “Le Tour du Ventoux”. The ride is about 70 miles with 6000ft of climbing and circumnavigates Ventoux in a counter clockwise direction.
Starting from the centre of Bedoin next to the Carrefour supermarket follow the D213, Route de Flassan to the village of the same name and home to a famous French cyclist of the 80s, Eric Caritoux who still resides there as a wine producer.
From here you turn south following the D19, passing cherry orchards and grape vines and rolling very gently downhill all the way to Villes sir Auzon. Following the circular one way road system you take the D1, signposted Sault out of the town before taking the right turn (D942) to Gorges de la Nesque and Monieux. The Gorge is without doubt the highlight of the ride and as you climb gently the full beauty of the surroundings opens out before you. The road hugs the vertical limestone rock face for a good duration of the route with a 300m drop to the bottom of the gorge below. At the highpoint of the “Gorge” there is a belvedere with a superb panorama back along the gorge and a stunning view of Mont Ventoux.
The road now descends to Monieux and you continue until you meet up again with the D1, from here it continues as the D942 as the road climbs again into the town of Sault. Staying on the D942 you neatly bypass the town but it well worth a detour to centre ville for a coffee and pan-au-raesen.
From Sault the D942 takes you along the tree-lined road to Aurel and yet another very old and picturesque French town, after winding through the village you can enjoy a very long descent that goes on forever, I always treat these with a foreboding that I will have to pay a price in the form of a compensating ascent but not so, the road just flattens and you are treated to some very nice cycling, the D942 then becomes the D542 and you need to watch out for a left turn onto the D72 at Reilhanette, just remember to keep an eye out and Ventoux on your left. At Savoillans the road becomes to D40 and you stay on this road following the River Toulourenc through Brantes. While pedalling was easy along this stretch birdsong was abundant but I could not help feeling it could be a very different story in the depths of winter.
As you approach Saint-Ledger-du-Ventoux the road rises as you enter the village, just over the brow of the hill is a small bar, and opposite a very ornate weather station at the side of the road. From this point on it is payback time as the road climbs, at the top of the climb at the D40/D40a crossroads there is a left turn signposted Vaux. The road winds down to the bottom of the valley through vineyards to the hamlet of Vaux where you cross the River Toulourenc, you continue to follow the D242 and begin a long winding ascent through tree lined roads all the way to Malaucene.
From the centre of Malaucene the D90 takes you on yet another challenging climb out of the town to the picture postcard village of Suzette and its surrounding vineyards from where you can enjoy stunning scenery followed by a swooping descent before yet another fortified town of Le Barroux.
At this point of the ride Kodak moments are pretty frequent The last two towns are Caromb and then a final short sharp climb to the beautifully named Crillon-le-Brave that gives you another stunning view of Ventoux. From here you can almost freewheel back to Bedoin, you have come full circle and completed one of those special rides that define Provence.
The route can be downloaded as (gpx track) – (tcx) or (kml) at https://ridewithgps.com/users/886149/routes